My 17-year-old daughter Ellie is in her own state of limbo this year, on the cusp of adulthood, so eager to head off to college and step out into a new, more positive phase of her life. So she’s been trying to take crash courses in certain life skills she knows will come in handy some day. (Smart girl!)
When I decided it was time to let go of my trusty ten-year-old Subaru and replace it with a new one, she wanted to be part of the process. I had never bought a car without Steve, so I knew we would both be learning as we went. As is often the case these days, she keeps surprising me with unexpected displays of maturity and insight. Pragmatic young woman that she is, she was very helpful in finding ways to get me unstuck over my decision on which specific model to purchase. It basically came down to the “Mom car” or a smaller, agile “fun car.” Hmmm…responsible and mature, or youthful and fun? I’ll let you guess which route I took. Here’s a hint: it’s a beautiful cranberry red!
So here we were on a test drive. Edgar, my wonderfully low-pressure salesman, sat quietly in the back as Ellie climbed into the passenger’s seat and happily inhaled that new car aroma. As I started up the engine, she seemed focused, yet relaxed. We headed out onto Auto Row, took a couple of turns, and ended up at a dead end in an industrial area behind the dealership with open fields on one side of the street and warehouses on the other.
For some reason Ellie’s mood suddenly shifted as I headed this shiny, silver, brand-spankin’-new car straight for the curb and the dry, bumpy field just beyond it. With eyes about to pop out of her head and mouth agape she yelled “Mom! Stop! You can’t drive this car up there!!!”. Without missing a beat, cool as a cucumber, I said “Sure I can. Watch me.”
So as I maneuvered this nimble Subaru Crosstrek up the curb and began jostling around the bumpy terrain, Ellie was still more than a bit anxious. But she quickly shifted into “This is cool! Gotta’ document it!” mode, whipping out her cell phone and videoing the event. (I could just imagine the title of that YouTube clip: “Here’s how my middle-aged Mom does test drives!”)
Now, there is a bit of backstory you should know. This was not my first field trip with Edgar, the excellent salesman. Just the day before I had driven a Forester–a.k.a. “Mom car”–down this same stretch of road. And when he encouraged me to give the field a try in that pristine new car, I was almost as shocked as Ellie. (The difference was I had already shared with Edgar how well my Subaru had done on those many treks up Trinity logging roads during the search for Steve. I had skills, and he had confidence in them.)
But back to Ellie: to her credit, she didn’t bolt out of the car when I climbed that curb, and she pretty quickly shifted from panic to all out belly laughter. That’s my girl.
All in all, I’m glad we took our little field trip. It’s a pretty delicious sensation as a parent when you can surprise your all-knowing teen with skills or qualities they didn’t know you possessed! So sweet.